For one hundred years thousands have passed through the doors of what is now known as the E.E. Bass Cultural Arts Center that expands the length of the 300 block of South Main Street leading to Downtown Greenville. Established as Greenville High School in 1916, the facility expanded in 1929, and E.E. Bass Junior High School was added along with the auditorium, now known as the Jake and Freda Stein Hall. One hundred years later the historical and educational facility is still a vibrant community hub for Washington County residents to visit on a daily basis. For longtime residents and visitors of the area, you may have noticed the transitions over the years from school to abandoned building to offices and now the Arts Center, which has been maintained and governed by the joint board and staff of the Greenville Arts Council and E.E. Bass Education and Development Foundation, Inc. Since the early 2000s the original full time tenants of the Arts Center, Delta Center Stage, Greenville Arts Council and Greenville Renaissance Scholars have worked to keep the building alive, growing and most importantly, restored to full functioning capacity. Several years ago the exterior of the GHS portion was nearly completely restored due to a generous grant from MS Department of Archives and History along with ample fundraising efforts. With the 2015 funds appropriated from the State, the Foundation has already made changes that are visible to the public such as the demolition of the dilapidated and hazardous “annex” on the rear of the facility along with expanded parking across the street. “The past year has been a very exciting and progressive year for us at Bass”, states Mary Catherine Davis, Executive Director. “With the million dollar appropriation from the State of Mississippi we are finally able to clear long standing hurdles and make our facility more user friendly and aesthetically appealing while maintaining and honoring historical aspects”.
The two funding sources have been vital to the progression of the Cultural Arts Center; however it takes much more to fund the daily operations and building maintenance projects. The Greenville Arts Council, which is the overseer of the building, hosts an annual fundraiser each year known in recent years as Greenville Honors Its Own, which provides GAC and Bass with the majority of their operating and program budget to continue to provide Washington County with low cost and often free community events. For over thirty years GAC has recognized individuals and organizations from our community who have received national recognition in the arts as well as local arts volunteers and supporters in the fields of business and education with the traditional Greenville Honors Its Own gala fundraiser. This year for the special centennial celebration, GAC and Bass invite students, teachers, artists, sponsors, patrons, members, past honorees and all who have passed Through These Doors for 100 years to celebrate this historically significant milestone, and to help raise funds to keep the building GAC operating and growing within the community.
To celebrate all these honorees, Bass alum and all who have passed Through These Door for 100 years, join us on Saturday, April 2nd at 7:00 pm with a cocktail hour and open bar. Guest can enjoy an extensive and delicious variety of foods catered by Marie Clarke of Special Occasions by Marie. A brief presentation will be made to recognize special guests, and have your nomination ideas ready for 2017s Greenville Honors Its Own because a nomination booth will be set up for your submissions. The building will be open for patrons to browse and mingle, including the Malkin Gallery which will be featuring The Delta Collects: A Past Perspective exhibition, while local bands Jazz Persuasion and Good Paper will perform for the evening. Tickets and sponsorship opportunities are as listed; One reservation $75, two reservations $150. Bronze sponsorship $500 – $999 includes listing in media advertising, event program, on site display of sponsorship and four reserved seats. Silver sponsorship $1,000 – $2,499 includes all bronze sponsorship benefits, name recognition at table and six reservations. Gold sponsor $2,500 – $4,999 includes ass silver sponsor benefits and eight reservations. Platinum sponsor $5,000 – and up includes all gold sponsor benefits and ten reserved seats. For reservations or more information contact the GAC office at 662-332-2246.